The Korte and kowatch team

David B. Korte, MST, CPA, AEP®

“My first job – when I was 14 years old – was at the local Dairy Queen. I was paid $2.50 per hour and was able to save $1,000 over one summer.”

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David Korte’s great grandfather, Russ Walsh, was a very well-known magician during the 1940s, 50s and 60s. 

My Story

I was born near the Detroit area in Dearborn, Michigan, and when I was three years old, my family moved to Cadillac, Michigan, a town of approximately 10,000.

My first job – when I was 14 years old – was at the local Dairy Queen. I was paid $2.50 per hour and was able to save $1,000 over one summer. The same local family, which owned the Dairy Queen, also owned the Kentucky Fried Chicken, so after the DQ closed for the summer, I began working at KFC.  While working at KFC, the owner asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a tax attorney. I was only 15, but somehow knew what would eventually come true.

During my senior year of high school, I began working at The Pines Nightclub as a disc jockey. Back then we were actually spinning records! I credit my experience working at bar for bringing out much of the personality people know today. Prior to this experience, I was a very shy kid with a personality that fit more of the traditional accountant. I often make the joke that you can tell you’re talking to an extroverted accountant because they are looking at your shoes instead of their own when speaking to you. Early on, I spent a lot of time looking at my shoes. Over six years and two different bars, my personality grew and I became comfortable conversing with just about anyone.

During my college years, I had several other jobs that ran concurrent with working at the nightclub. Pruning Christmas trees during the summer of 1988 was, hands down, the job that convinced me that I must finish my college education.

I graduated in December 1991 from Central Michigan University with a degree in accounting. Unfortunately, I graduated without a job in my chosen field, so I went back home to Cadillac and continued working at The Pines at night while working for a small tax and accounting service during the day.

After more than a year of doing this, I knew the only way to move forward was to be somewhere with greater professional opportunity, so I moved to Grand Rapids in the spring of 1993. I enrolled in a CPA review course and worked part time for a moving company. Just after taking the CPA exam in the fall of 1993, I was offered temporary employment at Old Kent Bank, and within a month, received a full time offer. I passed the CPA exam, but knew I needed audit experience to gain my CPA license.

I interviewed and received a job offer from BDO Seidman in July 1996. During the BDO interview process, I realized just how far behind I was compared to my peers . . . the individuals interviewing me were my age and younger and so much further ahead in their careers. Now was time to get serious about my career.

At BDO, I was given the opportunity to meet and work with many great clients, and many of the relationships I established at BDO continue today for which I remain thankful.

I’ve been married to Angela Balbaugh since 1999. We met volunteering for the Grand Valley State University Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program. At that time she worked for Plante Moran, and we were the only people from our firms that didn’t come with a co-worker . . . so we got paired up and have been paired up ever since.

We have two children, Kyle and Eva. Kyle and I began scuba diving together in 2011. It is my favorite father-son activity. Eva is a gymnast. I watch her train and compete with incredible pride.

My Expertise

I am the founder of Korte & Kowatch (formerly Korte Consulting, PLLC); a Grand Rapids based tax-consulting practice. I specialize in tax compliance and consulting services for high net worth families, ranging in size from $5 million to $500 million.

I have significant experience in advising private organizations and their shareholders on domestic issues including federal taxation, state and local taxation, trust and estate issues. I have been extensively involved in numerous capital transactions. These include pre-IPO gifting and structuring; reorganization of multiple businesses within a family group; formation of new entities for transfer tax purposes and purchase of off-shore manufacturing facilities.

I started my practice in January 2002 after spending six-and-a-half years with BDO Seidman, LLP, which I joined BDO from the private sector. In the private sector, I was an income tax administrator in the trust tax department of Old Kent Bank, where my responsibilities included trust document analysis for federal income tax purposes, tax compliance for trusts and individuals.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University and my Master of Science in Taxation from Grand Valley State University.

I am professionally affiliated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils.

Philip L. Kowatch, MST, CPA

“Although it was very costly to attend Northwood, my work on the farm allowed me to amass a very sizeable nest egg for an 18-year-old.”

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None of Philip Kowatch’s grandparents or parents had gone to college. Since he was the oldest of seven children, he was going to be a pioneer. 

My Story

I was born and raised in the village of Pewamo, Michigan, a small community just north of Lansing settled by German farmers in the mid-1800s. My grandparents and my parents were dairy farmers, and I began working on the farm at a young age. Operating a dairy farm involves long days and a lot of stress. The cows had to be milked early in the morning, and then again in the evening. We were always tuned in to the price of milk much like investors watch the stock market. But my family was always upbeat, and it was extremely fulfilling to be able to work together as a family on the farm.

When I was 12 years old my father sold the dairy farm, and I had no place to use my farming skills until a neighbor hired me to work on his dairy farm for the next 10 years at $2 per hour. During the school year, I got off the school bus and headed to the farm to milk cows before coming home to do my homework.

Needless to say, I had always imagined that I would make farming my career. It was not until I was a high school sophomore that I began to seriously think that I might want to do something else. I signed up for an accounting class and though I discovered that I was pretty good at it, I soon realized that I would need a college degree. None of my grandparents or parents had gone to college, and since I was the oldest of seven children, I was going to be a pioneer. Unlike many high school students who have natural uncertainty about what they want to do with their careers, I was uniquely focused on what I wanted to do.

I attended Northwood University, in Midland, Michigan, a small, private business school that was not too large and overwhelming for a farm kid. Northwood valued individual freedom and individual responsibility and emphasized promoting and leveraging the global, diverse and multi-cultural nature of entrepreneurial enterprises. Although it was very costly to attend Northwood, my work on the farm allowed me to amass a very sizeable nest egg for an 18-year-old. Further, Northwood helped me to obtain scholarship funds (contingent upon academic performance) and financial aid in order to make it feasible. I also obtained a work-study position at the school library to earn extra funds, and most weekends I would commute back home in order to put in some hours on the farm.

During my junior and senior years, I was an intern in the tax department at the Midland office of Deloitte & Touche. I would generally complete my class schedule by noon, and then head to the Deloitte office to work during the afternoons. During tax season, I also worked weekends.

After college graduation, I was fortunate to have offers from several accounting firms, but wanted to continue with Deloitte & Touche tax group in Grand Rapids. I passed the CPA exam and obtained a Masters of Taxation degree at Grand Valley State University. I worked at Deloitte & Touche until I joined David Korte’s firm in 2008.

My wife Stephanie and I met on a blind date in 2001 and were married on July 24th of 2004. Two years later we welcomed our first daughter, Eva. We now have a son Leo, another daughter Audrey, and another son, Henrik.

My Expertise

From 1997 to 2008, I practiced as a tax professional at Deloitte & Touche in the Midland and Grand Rapids offices where I was exposed to several areas of tax. My primary focus was on serving high net-worth individuals, family offices, and closely held businesses throughout the country. I also served as a lead engagement professional on multiple compliance and consulting engagements involving multi-tier partnership/LLC flow-through structures and was responsible for annual tax compliance of clients with closely held businesses, high net-worth individuals, and exempt-organizations.

I first met David Korte professionally through a mutual client and recognized that we both had similar client bases and skill sets. As Dave’s practice continued to develop and grow, Dave asked me to join his firm. I was very intrigued by the prospect of working with Dave because I could see that Dave was more than just an accountant to his clients. He was also a trusted advisor with deep relationships with several prominent families and individuals. I was also attracted to the opportunity to become a partner in the practice and the entrepreneurial experience of running a business. It was extremely difficult for me to leave Deloitte after more than 10 years, but in late 2008, I took a bit of a leap of faith and joined Dave’s practice. At the beginning of 2013, I became a partner in Korte & Kowatch.

I am a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants. My community activities include serving as an officer of the boards of Racing Awareness and The West Michigan Estate Planning Council as well as Treasurer of St. Matthew Lutheran Church.

Denice D. Pavey, CPA

My father worked long hours to provide for the family, and at the age of 12, I started working at his store as a cashier for 50 cents an hour.”

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My Story

I was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the oldest of four children. My father was a pharmacist, and my mother worked for General Motors as a secretary until I was born at which time she became a stay-at-home mom. When I was seven, we moved to Harrisville, Michigan where my parents purchased their own pharmacy and gift store. Harrisville is a small tourist town — population of just 500 — between Tawas and Alpena on Lake Huron. My father worked long hours to provide for the family, and at the age of 12, I started working at his store as a cashier for 50 cents an hour. I worked for him all through high school while juggling sports, taking advanced math classes and remaining on the honor roll. I just loved math, so I knew I wanted a career related to business and computers.

I attended Michigan State University where I met my husband the first day (six years later to that day we were married). During the summers, I helped out at my father’s store and also worked at the town’s boat harbor. Growing up in this environment taught me that customer service is very important. We needed these customers to come back year after year so that we were able to survive the winters. I also learned how important giving back was by watching how my parents tirelessly gave back to the community; in fact, my father is still in charge of putting on the 4th of July fireworks show.

After graduating from MSU, I moved to Grand Rapids where I started out in the tax department at BDO Seidman. I was then hired by BISSELL Inc. where I worked in their corporate offices for the health care division and also prepared the BISSELL Inc. consolidated tax returns.

On December 31st, 1995 I had my first son and soon realized that I too wanted to stay home with my children as my mother did. However, when next January rolled around, I found myself anxiously awaiting the opportunity to work another tax season! Over the next twelve years, I had another son and two daughters while working during the busy tax season only during evenings and weekends so I could be home with my four kids. I chose to homeschool my children until my youngest was old enough for kindergarten at which time I returned to work full time.

My husband Geoff works as a technical fellow engineer at Oliver Healthcare Packaging and is a well known expert in the medical device packaging industry. We are proud parents of Alex, Thomas, Katie and Mary.

  • Alex graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2018 with honors and a double major, computer and electrical engineering. He currently works for DornerWorks in Grand Rapids.
  • Thomas is an engineering student at Michigan State University who has been on the deans list every semester. He will graduate in 2020.
  • Katie started her freshman year at Grand Valley State University in the fall of 2018.
  • Mary is a honor roll student at Catholic Central High School and will graduate in 2020.

We reside in Cascade Township.

My Expertise

After graduating from Michigan State University, I moved to Grand Rapids where I started out in the tax department at BDO Seidman. I was then hired by BISSELL Inc. where I worked in their corporate offices for the health care division and also prepared the BISSELL Inc. consolidated tax returns.

After starting a family, I realized that I missed tax season, so I returned to work, first at BDO Seidman, and later at EHTC. I focused on preparing and reviewing individual tax returns during evenings and weekends. After my youngest child was old enough for kindergarten, I resumed working full time at EHTC. While there, not only was I in charge of training interns, but I was also in charge of individual income tax returns and created processes that made the firm more efficient and paperless. In addition, I worked with EHTC’s technology department to write a tax workflow process that functioned in the Microsoft CRM platform. Last, I continued to volunteer my accounting and computer skills for various local organizations.

In 2009, Dave Korte hired me to be part of his firm. What intrigued me about wanting to be a part of this firm was the level of personal service Dave offered to his clients. Since strong customer service was such a great part of my up-bringing, it was important to me that I was part of a small firm that delivered the high quality and expertise of a larger firm along with personal tailored service. By far, it has been the most enjoyable place to work because Dave and Phil not only treat their clients well, but also their employees.


Lisa M. Miller, EA

“Korte & Kowatch’s niche client base has provided me with challenging work while still allowing me flexibility for my family.”

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My Story

Lisa M. Miller, EA joined Korte & Kowatch in September of 2017. She brings over 25 years of experience in the field of Accounting, eleven of those are in Public Accounting. She has experience with individual and business tax, audit, non-profits, payroll, bookkeeping and much more.

Lisa earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, with minors in mathematics and communications from Davenport University in 1994. In the summer of 2009 she became a QuickBooks Pro Advisor and later earned her Enrolled Agent Certification in March of 2014.

Lisa has given back to the community throughout the years by volunteering time to many organizations such as the United Way and Habitat for Humanity. She has also spent many hours volunteering throughout the years at her daughters little leagues, schools and charitable work events.

Lisa grew up on a beef farm in Custer Michigan and later moved to Kalamazoo. She has resided in the Grand Rapids area for the last 22 years with her daughters Meaghan and Justeene.

Kristel R. Marshall, CPA

“I knew in high school that I wanted to be an accountant, so I decided to take many business and math classes as elective courses.”

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My Story

I grew up in Owosso, Michigan and this is where my family and I resided until I moved away to college. During the summers of high school, I worked for Old Kent Bank (now 5/3 bank) as a floater teller for various branches from Lansing to Flint. This job taught me how to interact with clients as well as enhancing my talents with ten key speed and counting cash (vastly competitive when challenged). I knew in high school that I wanted to be an accountant, so I decided to take many business and math classes as elective courses. This helped me expand my knowledge for my career aspirations as well as escalate my “class pet” status. I graduated as valedictorian of high school and went on to attend Northwood University in Midland Michigan. Northwood was an all business school and coincided with my career goals. This is where I met Phil Kowatch and developed a friendship that brought me to Korte & Kowatch today.

My Expertise

During college, I worked at Deloitte and Touche in Midland (along with Phil), preparing tax returns and helping with personal finance. I worked at the firm after class and during the summers for three years. My senior year, I worked in the finance department at Northwood and learned a little bit about running a business and watching the administrative group interact with students, teachers and donors. I graduated from Northwood in May of 1999 as valedictorian and started my career working for Plante and Moran in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here, I obtained my CPA license in 2001 after passing the exam and completing the work experience requirements. I worked for P&M for 11 years filing tax returns and completing audits throughout Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. P&M was a great company to work for and helped me to establish valuable foundations in technical skills and developing relationships. I left P&M after 11 years, due to my interest of working in industry and the desire to learn more about running a business financially. I went on to work for one of my favorite clients, Holland Hospital for 8 years in the finance department as the finance manager and director. Upon the birth of my second child, I left the hospital. Phil and I reconnected, and I joined Korte & Kowatch in November 2018.

Julie M. Striegle

“I joined Korte Consulting in 2006 with 10 years of public accounting administrative experience at Plante & Moran’s Gaylord and Grand Rapids offices.”

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My Story

Julie joined Korte & Kowatch in 2006 with 10 years of public accounting administrative experience at Plante & Moran, in their Gaylord and Grand Rapids offices.  Prior to that she worked in the cosmetology field.

She is responsible for, but not limited to, administrative support to the office staff, which includes bookkeeping, tax return processing, and other administrative tasks.

After spending six years in Gaylord Michigan she returned to Grand Rapids Northwest side, where she grew up. She now lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and her two children.

She enjoys spending time outdoors with family and friends and enjoys travel of all kinds. Julie considers Florida her home away from home.  She gives back to her children’s school both academically and through sporting events.

Her interests also include volunteering her time to, a nonprofit organization in support of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital located in Grand Rapids.


15 Ionia Avenue SW, Suite 505
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
P 616.774.2727  I  F 616.776.2764

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